Category Archives: financial

How the Hilton Honors Aspire Card Saved Me Thousands on a Maldives Vacation

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is great for those looking for a premium rewards card that really delivers on benefits. The $450 annual fee can be intimidating, but I received value exceeding that amount on a recent stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives. Below are five ways I saved over $2,000 thanks to my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

$1,800+ value from the annual free weekend night

The standard King Beach Villa at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives goes for around $1,800 per night … before taxes and fees. Award stays cost 120,000 points per night. While I used points for two nights, I got great value out of redeeming the free weekend night from the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for the third night. (Terms apply.)

The free weekend night is issued via email, in the form of a code. You simply call Hilton customer service and provide the dates and code to redeem it. Keep in mind that free weekend night redemptions can’t be refunded, so only redeem one when you know you won’t have to cancel the reservation. Redeeming this was an easy process for me, and I was thrilled to put it to such good use.

» Learn more: 5 things to know about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Early check-in and late checkout

I arrived at the resort around 7:30 a.m., which was over seven hours before check-in. In recognition of my Hilton Diamond status (courtesy of the my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card), I was offered early check-in. On my last day, checkout was extended to 5:30 p.m., over five hours past the normal time — free of charge.

I consulted with the resort afterward and found that they normally charge 50% of the room rate for early check-in. In my case, that’s valued at over $900. Would I have paid that amount? Of course not. But it was a nice benefit that allowed me to get settled early and enjoy the incredible room for just a little longer.

Free daily breakfast worth over $160

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with free diamond status — no additional spending required. (Terms apply). Hilton Diamond status is incredibly valuable, especially when you’re traveling to a place like the Maldives, where everything is super expensive.

Breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria cost around $40 per day, and I was supposed to receive it free of charge for three days. When I arrived at 7:30 a.m. the first morning, the staff offered me complimentary breakfast that day as well.

Over four days, the free breakfast benefit earned through my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card saved me at least $160. (And that doesn’t include my morning latte, for which the menu didn’t even include a price.) Considering I was stuck on an island with limited dining options, this was absolutely a charge I would have incurred on my own had it not been offered to me for free as a Diamond benefit.

$250 off my total bill

Traveling to the Maldives isn’t cheap, even if you’re using points for hotel bookings. There’s the high cost of food and activities at the resort — and since most hotels are located on islands away from the capital of Malé, you’ll need to pay for a boat or seaplane to get there.

At the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, the boat transfer costs an eye-popping $862.40 round-trip, per person. Yes, the “boat” is a luxury yacht with two bedrooms and four crew members, but that’s still a lot of money for a 40-minute boat ride.

At the end of my stay, I ended up with a bill totaling over $1,700 for this boat ride and other incidentals like room service and activities. What took the sting out of it was the fact that two days later, I received a $250 statement credit from my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

The card’s annual $250 resort credit is valid at participating Hilton resorts, including this Waldorf Astoria (terms apply). Since you’re already paying a $450 annual fee to have this card, being able to take advantage of every single benefit is invaluable. In my case, I’d like to think I got more than my money’s worth this year.

» Learn more: The complete guide to Hilton Honors

Over 16,000 bonus points

Hilton Honors members earn 10 base points per $1 spent on hotels. And Hilton Diamond members earn 100% bonus points, which doubled my earnings to 20 points per $1. Thanks to the Power Up promotion, I earned another 10 points per $1 on top of that, plus a 1,000-point Diamond member welcome amenity. That brought my initial earnings to 46,639 points on my out-of-pocket cost of $1,521.30 (for the yacht transfer, food and activities minus my $250 statement credit).

In addition, since I charged this to my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, I will earn another 14 points per $1 spent, totaling 21,298. My grand total is a whopping 67,937 Hilton points. That’s enough for a free night at a resort like the Hilton Waikoloa Village, which goes for over $300 per night in the summer.

Of course, I plan on saving up my points for another adventure I can’t normally afford (perhaps the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island).

Information related to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
Hilton credit cards: Which one should you get?
Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies

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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 9), a trip to Austin, & roller-skating

I’ve been getting the itch to start sharing more personal posts on the blog — even if they aren’t necessarily money-related. I waffled on whether to post these here because I know that anytime I consistently post non-money-related posts, some people get annoyed by it and are very vocal about that.

However, I also know I’ve heard from many of you that you miss me sharing more of my life online (I do a LOT of life-sharing on Instagram so it feels like I share a lot of our life… but then I remember that not everyone follows my stories there so it probably does seem like I don’t share as much as I used to because I’ve been sharing it more on stories than on the blog!)

After a lot of thought, I decided that I would just go with my gut and begin sharing a regular weekly post here on the blog that’s part pregnancy update, part peek into our lives, part whatever else I want to share. If you’re not into these types of posts, you can just skip right on by on the weekends, no hard feelings at all! I truly mean that!

Pregnancy Update

9 Weeks! We’re almost to double digits which means we’re getting ever and ever closer to the second trimester and a little less (hopefully!) morning, noon, and night sickness. (Missed my 8-week pregnancy update? See it here.)

HIGHLIGHTS: 1) Getting 9+ hours of sleep cumulatively on Tuesday night while I was staying alone in a hotel in Austin. (I rarely sleep well when I’m by myself in a hotel, but I guess I was so tired that I just slept and slept and slept. It was completely unexpected and totally amazing! 1) I felt well enough for an hour one morning this week that I actually made scrambled eggs and was able to eat them (I usually can’t go near anything related to food prep!)

NOTABLE THIS WEEK: I discovered that when I get more sleep, I don’t feel as sick. I didn’t realize how much nausea and tiredness were connected for me, so this was very helpful to discover. Also, I ordered a cast iron pan from Amazon (thanks to all of your recommendations!) and am hoping maybe it will help with my anemia. I’m still very out of breath and dragging much of the time, but I’m hopeful that eating as many iron-rich foods as I can stomach, a double iron supplement, extra Vitamin C when I have iron, and the cast iron pan will help my levels to improve before I’m tested in a week and a half again.

CRAVINGS: This week, much of the time, I struggled more to find things to eat that I felt would stay down. I did have cravings for carrots and dip one day — which was pretty exciting seeing as I have no wanted to go near a vegetable! And late one night, I had a desperate craving for Sonic tater tots. Jesse — kind and amazing husband that he is — went out and got me some at 10:45 p.m. at night!

WEIGHT GAIN: 3 pounds! My weight didn’t go up this week, but I feel like my “baby bump” got a little more pronounced and I’m starting to reach more and more for stretching pants and roomier tops. It will be interesting to see when I actually begin wearing maternity clothes. It was around 17-20 weeks with my other three, but I have a feeling it’s going to be sooner this time around!

(By the way, someone messaged me on Facebook last week to tell me that my “baby bump” was not, in fact, anything to do with a baby and was just all bloat. I had to laugh because, while some of it is likely some pregnancy-related bloat, since there’s a baby in there, we get to call it a “baby bump” regardless of what is causing it! :))

NOTE: I’ve never done weekly pregnancy or regular belly shots in the past before. I decided to do it this time because I wish I had documented my pregnancies better in the past. I plan to post these on Saturday each week.

If you are sensitive to these types of post because of loss or infertility, I wanted you to know so you can avoid checking my blog/social media on those days. I don’t know that I’ll ever get to experience pregnancy again, so I’m documenting this primarily for myself and this child (Lord-willing! To get to read someday). I also know that a number of you have begged for me to share pregnancy updates, so if this if your thing, you can enjoy these posts each weekend.

A Peek Into Our Week

I flew to Austin, TX on Tuesday for an SEO training with Everything Digital Marketing. Meg, who is our Director of Content Strategy, was able to attend, as well. (She is spearheading all of the changes we’re working on making for SEO on our site.)

The event was SO good and she and I came away excited and energized about how to organize all of our old content plus how to create better content for you all in the future.

Believe it or not, we’ve never really done much of anything with SEO in the past, so we have been working hard to learn everything we can and figure out how to implement it. Since we have thousands of posts in the archives, it’s a pretty mammoth task, but we’re working on learning and formulating a plan so we can serve you all better.

I got back on Wednesday late afternoon — just in time to head to the roller skating rink with our youth group (Jesse and I are both serving as small group co-leaders for our church youth group this year. It’s been a blast!)

One of the boys severely broke his wrist during the evening, so Jesse and I ended up spending some of the evening driving him to the ER to meet his parents and get medical attention. He was such a brave kid and I can’t even imagine how much pain he was in.

We got back just in time for the group picture. Can you spot me?? 🙂

We ended up taking Kaitlynn to Urgent Care, too, because her wrist was hurting her after she hit the wall really hard. Gratefully, she just had a bad sprain.

I guess it’s good that I had decided ahead of time not to skate! Yikes!

What I’m…

Reading right now: The Choosing

Watching right now: Three Identical Strangers

Listening to right now: Michael Buble Christmas (don’t judge! It made me happy when I was feeling yucky today!)

Loving right now: Preggi Pop Drops

In Case You Missed It:

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8 Homeowner Expenses to Budget for — on Top of Your Mortgage

You’ve spent months — years even — saving up for a down payment for a house. You’ve budgeted meticulously, banking savings whenever you could to make homeownership possible. 

After reaching that goal, you may feel like the pressure to budget and save is gone. But don’t get too comfortable.

Owning a home introduces a new set of expenses. Plumbing repairs, anyone? Taxes, fellow Americans? There’s more to homeownership than simply paying a mortgage instead of rent. 

Here are eight homeowner expenses you’ll need to include in your budget.

1. Taxes

Cities and counties tax homeowners to help fund schools, road improvements and other public services. Your taxes are based on the millage rate and the assessed value of your home.

Property tax information is a public record, so you can look up how much previous owners were taxed in the past. However, keep in mind taxes can fluctuate from year to year as home values and millage rates change.

Many lenders fold tax payments into a homeowner’s overall mortgage payment. The portion of your monthly payment that goes toward your taxes is held in an escrow account until the bill is due. This takes the pressure off the homeowner to budget for taxes each month.

If your mortgage doesn’t include escrow payments for taxes (or you don’t have a mortgage), you’ll want to set up a similar, risk-free account where you deposit one-twelfth of your annual tax bill each month to save up.

2. Insurance

Homeowners insurance generally protects against losses or damages to your home and belongings, plus liability coverage for accidents that may occur on your property. What your homeowners insurance covers will differ based on your policy — as will the cost. 

Older homes, those with amenities like pools and those in riskier areas such as on a waterfront cost more to insure. Depending on where you live, you may also be required to purchase an additional policy for flood insurance.

Pro Tip

Even if you aren’t required to get flood insurance — or additional coverage like earthquake insurance — you may opt to do so to protect against damage your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover.

Like taxes, homeowners insurance is often folded in your mortgage and held in an escrow account. If not, you’ll want to divide your annual insurance bill by 12 and put that amount aside monthly.

3. Utilities

You’ve probably been used to paying utilities as a renter, but you may find your expenses are greater once you move into your new home — especially if your square footage is significantly larger.

If any utility costs were previously folded into your rent payment, be prepared for separate bills.

Check service providers’ rates to help budget for these expenses. You can ask about average costs from the previous owners, though your usage may differ.

4. Maintenance and Repair Fund

Though you may not have to save as aggressively as when you were trying to come up with a down payment, personal finance experts suggest homeowners save 1 to 2% of their home value each year for maintenance and repairs.

A good place to keep these funds is in a high-yield savings account or money market account. You may not dip into these savings every year, but you’ll want to easily access this money when something needs fixing.

Alternatively, you could purchase a home warranty, which covers repairs to certain systems and appliances, like your HVAC system or your fridge. Weigh the costs of the warranty (plus any related service fees) against how much you would save on your own for future repairs.

5. Homeowners Association (HOA) or Condo Fees

If you live in a condo or neighborhood with a homeowners association, you get a bonus homeowner expense: HOA or condo fees. These fees are collected to cover expenses related to shared amenities, common space, neighborhood aesthetics or security.

These fees vary, but they can tack on a couple hundred dollars to your monthly housing expenses. 

If you pay your fees once a year, set up a sinking fund and save up each month.

6. Pest Control

Gone are the days when you’d just call your rental office if you found ants invading your kitchen. Now that lovely task is on your plate.

You could go the do-it-yourself route and purchase pesticides, barrier treatments or traps from a home improvement store. But if there’s a family of rodents in your attic, you may want to call in the professionals. Pest control companies have expertise and more effective extermination solutions than what you can buy at the store.

Shop around for quotes from different companies to get the best deal. Many offer contracts for preventative maintenance if you want your home treated regularly.

7. Lawn Care

Lawn care is another task you’ll want to decide whether to do yourself or outsource. If you’re hiring a lawn care company, be sure to shop around for the best prices.

Pro Tip

Get recommendations on lawn care, pest control and home repair services from websites like Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor or Nextdoor.

If you go the DIY route, factor the cost of equipment and supplies in your budget. Some equipment may also include ongoing costs, like buying gas for your mower.

Time and energy are other expenses you’ll face, though it’s harder to determine a clear dollar amount.

While lawn care may seem like an aesthetic thing, your city— or HOA — likely has rules and regulations regarding maintenance. You could get fined for letting your grass grow too high.

8. Security System

A security system is optional, but it’s an expense you may give a second look once you move into your own home. Your house is a major asset and you’ll want to protect it — along with your family and belongings.

When considering security systems, budget for the initial cost of buying and installing the system, plus the monthly cost for monitoring.

At the bare minimum, when you move into a new house, you’ll want to pay to get all the locks changed.

Facing Homeowner Expenses Responsibly

Before buying a house, gather cost estimates and quotes and create a mock budget to make sure you’re comfortable with all your new homeowner expenses.

Pro Tip

Taking a HUD-certified homeowner course prior to buying a home can help you prepare for the financial responsibilities of homeownership.

Don’t neglect the costs involved with moving either. A truck rental, cans of paint and purchasing furniture adds up.

This laundry list of expenses isn’t meant to rain on your parade. Buying a home is a joyous occasion, but you ought to be prepared to handle any storms that come your way. When the housewarming party is over, you’ve still got saving to do.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She is in the process of buying her first home.

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7 Best TV Shows to Watch to Learn About Money, Finance & Business

If you want to learn more about money, the easiest way is to pick up a book on the subject. Unfortunately, most books about finance aren’t exactly pleasure reading. Some are very dull and technical, and even the livelier ones aren’t as much fun to read as, say, a spy novel. It would be a lot easier to keep yourself interested if you could get your information in a form that provided entertainment at the same time.

That’s where TV comes in. There are all kinds of shows on traditional broadcast networks, cable, and even YouTube that present useful information about money in a way that’s fun to watch. These shows typically wrap their information in real-life stories about business owners or ordinary people in trouble. Some include an element of competition, some follow a question-and-answer format, and some feature live interviews with business owners and other interesting people.

Here are seven TV shows, available on a variety of channels, that both financial experts and ordinary viewers say are worth a look.

1. Mad Money

Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s “Mad Money,” has two main features that have made his show such a success. The first is his encyclopedic knowledge of the stock market — its boom-and-bust cycles, the factors that affect different industries, even the personalities behind some of its most successful companies. He draws on this knowledge not just to provide stock tips, but to educate viewers about how the market works. His goal, as he puts it in his “Mad Money Manifesto,” is to “level the playing field” by helping ordinary people invest on the same level as the pros.

All of that is useful, but it’s the same kind of information you could get from reading books or magazines. What really makes “Mad Money” work as a show is Cramer’s loud, wild, and flamboyant personality. He doesn’t just talk about stocks; he shouts about them, rattling on at the speed of a runaway train, often punctuating his remarks with sound effects like a train crash or the cha-ching of a cash register. His rants, interspersed with guest interviews and calls from viewers, turn investing into entertainment.

Where to Watch It

“Mad Money” airs weeknights on CNBC at 6pm Eastern Time. You can also use your cable provider’s login to view the last five full episodes of the show on The website also has short clips from the show, written summaries, and a podcast version you can subscribe to via iTunes or Stitcher.

2. Squawk Box

If you’d prefer a less frenetic introduction to the world of investing, check out “Squawk Box,” also on CNBC. This show explores issues affecting the market in a round-table format with hosts Joe Kernen, Becky Quick, and Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewing big shots in the worlds of finance and politics. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, mega-investor Warren Buffet, and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan are just a few of the leading lights who have taken seats at the “Squawk Box” table.

In recent episodes, guests on “Squawk Box” have talked about a wide variety of issues. The chairman of the Atlanta Fed discussed the likelihood of changes in interest rates, a market analyst talked about the race between the U.S. and China to develop 5G networks, and two economists debated the best ways to address income inequality in America. In short, this show can help you delve into the details of the intertwined fields of politics and investing to understand what makes them tick.

Where to Watch It

You’ll have to get up early to watch “Squawk Box” live. This “pre-market” show airs on CNBC every weekday morning at 6pm Eastern Time before the stock markets open. That allows viewers to take the insights they gain from the show with them into the day’s trading. If you’re not an early riser, you can view clips from the show, including CEO interviews, on

3. The Profit

If you own or are thinking about starting a business, you could learn a thing or two from CNBC’s “The Profit.” The show centers around multimillionaire CEO Marcus Lemonis talking to the owners of small, and often struggling, businesses from auto dealerships to hamburger joints. After learning all he can about their “three Ps” — people, products, and processes — he decides whether to put his own money into the business in exchange for an ownership stake. He’s already invested more than $35 million in businesses that were featured on the show.

Part of the fun of this show comes from the tension of wondering whether Lemonis will choose to invest in a business. Another part comes from the often entertaining personalities of the business owners he meets, such as the 13-year-old CEO of a company that makes cookies. And part of it comes from the conflicts that can result when Lemonis becomes an owner of a company and proceeds to revamp its business practices in ways that don’t always thrill the original owners. But wrapped up in all the entertainment is a wealth of useful information about what it takes for a small business to succeed.

Where to Watch It

CNBC runs “The Profit” every Tuesday at 10pm Eastern and Pacific Time. You can also watch complete episodes of the show on the CNBC website with your cable login or view them on Hulu.

4. Shark Tank

The premise of ABC’s “Shark Tank” is similar to “The Profit”: real business owners pitch their companies to investors, hoping to secure their backing. The difference is that, instead of dealing one-on-one with a single investor, Shark Tank guests have to fact a panel of wealthy and successful investors known as “sharks.” This team includes billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran, and hip-hop fashion mogul Daymond John.

This four-time Emmy award-winning show generates drama through the larger-than-life personalities of some of the sharks, as well as the vast amounts of money being thrown around. Over this show’s 10 seasons to date, it has brought over $100 million in investment to business owners. However, to win over the investors, entrepreneurs must offer a convincing pitch, as well as know how much money to ask for and how big a stake they should be willing to offer in return. For anyone seeking to build a business, this show has useful lessons to learn.

Where to Watch It

“Shark Tank” appears on ABC stations Thursday nights at 10pm Eastern Time. You can also watch previous episodes of the show on ABC Go or Hulu.

5. The Dave Ramsey Show

Financial guru Dave Ramsey first entered the American media scene with a call-in radio show. Listeners called to ask him about their financial problems, which he addressed with a blend of common sense and tough love. After a while, Fox Business picked up “The Dave Ramsey Show” as a TV program, which ran through 2010. The format was much the same as his radio show, with the addition of an opening monologue and some questions from viewer emails.

Today, “The Dave Ramsey Show” no longer airs on TV, but it’s found a new home on YouTube. There, you can watch both live streams and short videos of Ramsey talking to callers about a wide variety of financial issues, such as work, homebuying, saving for retirement, getting out of debt, lending to relatives, and sharing finances in marriage.

Ramsey’s persona is folksy, with an overtly Christian perspective and a take-no-prisoners attitude toward eliminating debt in all its forms. He can sometimes get aggressive about people or things he sees as financially irresponsible — as shown by the collection of videos labeled “Top 10 Epic Dave Ramsey Rants” — but for some viewers, that’s part of the fun.

Where to Watch It

Dave Ramsey’s YouTube channel runs live streams every weekday from 2pm to 5pm Eastern Time, which are archived afterward for later viewing. The channel also offers a wide assortment of shorter clips from the show that are anywhere from three to 10 minutes long and focus on specific issues.

6. The Suze Orman Show

Suze Orman is another much-loved financial guru and the author of several books on personal finance. She’s appeared on many TV shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” but is best known for “The Suze Orman Show,” which ran on CNBC from 2002 through 2015. Like Ramsey, Orman spent most of the show talking to callers and on-camera guests about their personal financial problems.

Orman adopted a familiar, breezy style with her callers, addressing them as “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” and scolding them about financial moves she disapproved of, such as leasing cars or taking out whole-life insurance policies. In one of the show’s most popular segments, “Can I Afford It?”, callers would ask Orman’s permission to make a major purchase, such as a house, a vacation, or a luxury car, and she would give them a thumbs-up or — more often — a thumbs-down based on the state of their finances. Orman is also openly gay and often used her TV platform to talk about the special financial and legal problems of same-sex couples in the years before same-sex marriage became legal.

Where to Watch It

Though “The Suze Orman Show” is no longer on the air — and Orman herself is now happily retired in the Bahamas — there are lots of clips of old episodes on and on the show’s YouTube channel, including her farewell “moneylogue” from her final episode. You can find some full episodes on YouTube as well, but you’ll need to search for them.

7. The Financial Diet

Unlike old-school financial shows that started out on TV and later made the jump to YouTube, “The Financial Diet” is strictly a YouTube channel — one that’s earned more than 43 million views since its debut in 2015. Created by millennials, for millennials, “The Financial Diet” attempts to cover “Everything you wanted to know about money + living better, even for the total beginner.”

This channel includes videos from several different series. The original “The Financial Diet” series, hosted by “Chelsea,” offers tips and nuggets of information on a range of financial topics, from improving your credit to applying for a job. “The Lifestyle Fix,” hosted by “Tasha,” talks about how to live the good life on a tight budget, covering topics such as shopping for groceries or organizing your closet. The “Making It Work” series features real-life success stories from a variety of authors, such as a person who bought a house at age 19 on a $24,000 salary. And “The 3-Minute Guide,” hosted by blogger and author Erin Lowry — better known as Broke Millennial — provides quick-and-dirty intros to complex financial topics, such as paying less in taxes and asking for a raise at work.

These topics are useful, but the videos aren’t all interesting to watch. While the “Making It Work” videos spice up their information with quick-changing images — photos, drawings, and color-blocked text — the others tend to be just a shot of the host talking to the camera, with the only visual variation provided by cuts between slightly different camera angles. You wouldn’t really miss out on anything by listening to these videos while doing something else, rather than watching them.

Where to Watch It

New videos from “The Financial Diet” appear every couple of days on YouTube.

Final Word

As a learning tool, TV has its limits. For one thing, you can only use it to learn about a financial topic if a show about that topic actually exists. While there are books on just about every money-related subject you can imagine, TV shows about money tend to focus on a more limited set of subjects — the ones that make interesting viewing.

A one-hour TV show also can’t provide the same kind of in-depth information about a specific topic you’d get from reading a book. Videos can’t easily organize material into chapters and headings or provide an index you can use to refer back to the exact section you want. And while it’s possible to “bookmark” a particular video online, it’s not always easy to mark the exact minute and second of a particular section or sections you want to watch again.

But there’s one big advantage to learning about money by watching TV and online videos: It’s something most of us are doing already. According to a 2018 Nielsen report, the average American now spends more than 5.5 hours per day watching some type of video. By devoting at least a portion of that time to shows about money, you can get something more useful out of that time than you would by watching another rerun of “The Walking Dead.”

Do you have a favorite show about money that didn’t make this list? Share it in the comments.

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The Fight and the Results

Almost every self-improvement goal, whether it’s straightening out your finances or losing weight or getting yourself fit or earning a challenging degree or getting a black belt, comes down to two elements: the fight and the results.

The fight is the journey to get there. It’s the work you put in. It’s the struggle against internal signals telling you to quit and encouraging you to be lazy.

The results are what you see when you win that fight. It’s the outcome you can show to the rest of the world.

The fight is internal. It’s a battle inside of you, above all else. Are you willing to overcome the resistance inside of you, the voice telling you that you can’t do this, the desire to be lazy, the negative habits you’ve built up over the years? That’s an internal battle.

The results are external. The results are what most of us want when we get into the fight. We want to have that trimmer waistline. We want to have that degree. We want to have no debts. We want to have that black belt. They’re things we can look at to tell ourselves that we did it and to show others that we did it.

There are two main approaches to winning the fight and getting the results.

One approach is to simply survive the fight, to push through it every day, to look for shortcuts to get to the results quickly, even if it’s not sustainable. Think of a crash diet or a thirty day money challenge or a series of all-nighters to finish a project. This project is often littered with shortcuts, unsustainable leaps toward the desired results.

That’s a path that will often get you some positive result fairly quickly at a specific moment in time. If your goal is to look as thin as possible for your friend’s wedding or to get approved for a mortgage or to get a particular project don reasonably well and on time or to simply get caught up on all of your bills, then the “survive the fight” strategy is probably a good choice.

The only problem is that when you merely “survive the fight,” you are virtually guaranteed to fall back from that result and not sustain it. A crash diet never leads to lasting weight loss on its own. A hyper-frugal month and selling off a bunch of stuff never leads to lasting financial stability on its own.

Why? Because you didn’t really win the fight. Rather, you just lasted through a few rounds of taking lots of punches.

“Surviving the fight” is great if you just want to be a person who looks sort of healthy for the wedding. A different approach is needed if you want to be a healthy person.

“Surviving the fight” is great if you just want to get caught up on your bills. A different approach is needed if you want to be a financially stable person.

“Surviving the fight” is great if you just want to get that report in on time. A different approach is needed if you want to be a valuable employee who naturally earns and deserves raises.

That “different approach” is all about creating a system for your life that produces the results you want. That’s where you don’t just survive the fight, but you win the fight, and the one after that, and the one after that. The results you want just magically appear, time and time again.

The problem is that it’s a lot harder to begin with (taking perseverance) and results are often slow to appear (taking patience), and we live in a society that does not seemingly value perseverance or patience very much.

So what is a system that produces results?

It Starts With Who You Are

The fundamental difference between surviving the fight and getting quick but non-lasting results versus winning the fight and getting lasting results starts with defining who you are.

Are you a financially stable person, or are you a person looking to just get their bills paid for the moment?

Are you a fit and healthy person, or are you just looking to squeeze into some clothes for a big event?

Are you a successful professional, or are you just looking to get that project done and keep skating by?

That’s a fundamental choice, and I’m not going to say that one choice is the right one for everyone. Some people enjoy a lot of life’s expensive momentary pleasures and value that more than lasting financial success. Some people want to put in the minimal effort to get a paycheck and keep their job. Some people want to look good at the wedding and eat extravagantly the rest of the time. Those are valid choices. It depends on what you want out of life.

When I started my own financial turnaround, for example, my initial aim was to just get caught up and ahead on our bills. I didn’t really have any major life changes on my radar at all. I read some specific strategies for getting out of debt, mostly Dave Ramsey stuff, and I just threw myself into those. I wasn’t a financially stable person. I was just looking to get my bills paid for the moment.

What changed? How did I decide to go from being a person who just wanted to get my bills paid up to being someone far along the path to financial independence?

It’s simple. I decided I wanted to not just be a dude who had his bills paid. I wanted to be a financially successful person with a lasting financial foundation under me. That was a key decision. I changed my vision of who I was.

What Does a Successful Person Do?

The question then becomes: what does a person who is successful in this way do every day to be successful?

What does a financially successful person do every day to move forward their financial success?

What does a healthy and fit person do every day to move forward their health and fitness?

What does a professionally successful person do every day to move forward their career?

What does a great parent do every day to move forward their parenting skills?

What does a great partner do every day to sustain a great lasting relationship?

That’s the thing: it’s an every day (or close to it), permanent thing.

Getting caught up on your bills is something you can do for two or three months and then you’re done. Being a financially successful person is a permanent change that is a permanent alteration of your daily routines.

Squeezing into those clothes for the wedding is something you can pull off in eight weeks. Being a healthy and fit person is a permanent change that is a permanent alteration of your daily routines.

That’s the key word: permanent. Going from being an ordinary person to being a financially successful person or a healthy person or whatever the case might be means that you’re going to alter your daily routines, forever.

You want to alter them in such a way that a normal day is one where you’re taking steps, either directly or indirectly, toward being what you’ve decided that you are. You’re no longer a financial train wreck. You’re a financially successful person cleaning up a mess. You’re no longer an unhealthy mess. You’re a healthy person cleaning up a mess that will eventually be cleaned up and then you’re just a healthy person.

The Misery Factor

The stumbling block that many people run into when facing this is the idea that they are consigning themselves to “misery” for the rest of their entire life.

I can’t buy anything fun for the rest of my life?

I have to eat like this for the rest of my life?

I have to exercise like this every day for the rest of my life?

If those are the kinds of feelings you’re having, one of two things is going on.

One, you value other aspects of your life more than the role you supposedly want. You love gourmet food more than you love the idea of a healthy body. You love spending on splurges more than you love the idea of being financially stable.

If that’s you, that’s okay, but accept that. You can’t do one thing and expect completely contradictory results. If you love to eat delicious high-calorie foods and want it to be part of your daily life, you should expect a constantly excited palate, but you shouldn’t expect a thin waistline. If the activities you are most focused on enjoying in life require constant purchases, you shouldn’t expect financial stability. You are choosing one life role over another one when the two are in direct conflict, and that’s okay. That’s a personal choice based on what you value.

The other possibility is that you are choosing a lifestyle change or routine that’s beyond your current capacity. Going from being almost entirely sedentary to multi-hour extreme workouts every single day is very likely to be miserable. Going from eating whatever you want to a carefully planned 1400 calorie per day diet is very likely to be miserable.

Trying to live up to such extreme change, particularly when such extreme change is a permanent one, has a very good chance of leaving you with negative feelings about the whole thing, and negative feelings are extremely damaging to personal change.

You are much better finding sustainable patterns that lead to slowly emerging positive results than unsustainable ones that can produce faster results but leave you with strong negative feelings. Why? Those negative feelings result in a big backlash where you end up just rolling back to previous patterns that you were unhappy with (but they’re probably a little less unhappy than the radical changes you added to your life).

So, let’s sum it up. If you want to win the fight and keep winning, you need to redefine who you are. If you want to win the personal finance fight, you have to view yourself as a financially successful person. That means answering the question “What does a financially successful person do each day?” and applying that every day going forward. If you find it too difficult, find smaller steps and work up to it, but you have to keep taking steps every day until that becomes your normal path. Over time, the outcomes you desire will naturally emerge from that change in your normal behavior.

So, what does that look like?

The Fight and the Results: Personal Finance Edition

I’ll use myself as an example here.

Before I started The Simple Dollar, before I even began turning things around, I was a complete train wreck in terms of my finances. I spent money constantly without any accountability, fulfilling every little desire that came to mind by throwing money at it. I stopped at coffee shops pretty much every day. I stopped at the local bookstore two or three times a week. I had a bunch of expensive and acquisitive hobbies, including golfing and video games and trading cards. Sarah and I went out to eat quite often.

While we made good money, we were a financial wreck. We lived in a tiny apartment. We both had cars with outstanding loans on them. We both had multiple student loans that added up to a pretty frightening number. We had a bunch of credit card debt and some additional loans. We also had a baby and were dealing with the expense of child care for the first time.

This all culminated on a giant mess where we couldn’t even pay our bills. We were beginning to have to walk a tightrope just to pay rent and utilities and keep enough space on the credit cards to keep living our lifestyle, and eventually that didn’t even work. We reached a point where we couldn’t pay our bills for the month.

At that point, the fight began, but my original goal was just to survive the fight. I didn’t want to radically change my life – I liked my life. What I wanted to do is reach a level of financial stability and not find us walking up to the precipice like that again.

So, I started doing a typical “fix my finances” binge. I sold off a bunch of stuff to quickly pay off a few debts. I remember selling piles of trading cards and lots of DVDs and video games and such, just to generate cash quickly to get myself out of that immediate hole. That was actually a good move, as I purged stuff I wasn’t looking at or using at the moment.

However, I also started making radical changes to my spending. I went on huge spending fasts, where I would try to avoid spending any money at all. It helped a lot in the short term, but it left me with this feeling that I was giving up too much. I was missing a lot of hobbies and having thoughts like “Is this all there is? Am I going to have to not spend any money for fun now?”

That was the point when I started to really think a lot about what I really wanted out of the future and out of my daily life. For all of that spending that I felt I was missing out on, what was I really missing? Furthermore, and perhaps even more important, what exactly does a financially successful person do with their day if they’re not on a steady diet of spending?

I started looking around for examples of such people, particularly wanting to understand what they were doing when they were in my shoes, starting out with a family and a career. I read books like Your Money or Your Life and The Millionaire Next Door. I had some really good conversations with a few mentors that I knew through my career. More than anything, I asked myself what things brought me real joy without costing me money? and what things should I be doing every day so that those inexpensive joyous things become more and more secure?

I started putting aside more time for reading and became a big patron of the library near my apartment. I started going on lots of walks, often pushing my infant son around in a stroller, because I realized I liked how it felt, and that eventually turned into going on lots of hikes and walks in nearby state parks. I started playing through some of the video games I’d accumulated and kept, not just playing them for a few hours and looking for the next thing. I started making a lot of my own meals, not just because it saved money, but because it was enjoyable and interesting and I learned pretty quickly that I could make some really tasty stuff without much of a mess.

I also realized that I made most of my spending mistakes when I had cash just sitting in my hand, so I started moving to automate a lot of the good financial moves I wanted to make. I bumped up those automatic retirement contributions. I started making automatic 529 contributions for my son and, very shortly after, my daughter, too. Whenever I saw cash in my checking account, I intentionally quelled a lot of temptations and moved a lot of it either into an emergency fund in a savings account at another bank or made a big extra payment on an unpaid debt. I stopped using credit cards entirely for a long while, cutting up a couple and leaving others at home most of the time, and I deleted my credit card numbers from online stores. I started buying everything store brand at the store and figuring out how to grocery shop effectively.

These were all obvious positive moves. They were all things that became daily or weekly routines. Most importantly, they weren’t things that made me feel miserable. If I realized I was feeling unhappy about my life and longed for something that I was doing in the past, I didn’t try to “shut it down.” Rather, I tried to understand it.

It’s because negative feelings when you’re trying to make permanent changes are a sign that the permanent change is going to fail, that you’re building a system in your life that’s destined to break down. When you make changes, they should either feel neutral (most of them) or good (some of them). If they feel bad, and you feel like you’re missing something, you need to dig into that now and figure out how to balance the change you want to make from the thing you desire and value in your life right now.

For me, that means having a hobby budget. I figured out before long that I do have a number of hobbies and that some of them do require some spending, but that I don’t need to spend a lot to feel good about it, just a little. It’s one of those situations where, over time, I figured out how much hobby spending was “just enough” to feel good about my explorations of my interests, and I put a firm cap on that “just enough” amount. I can’t afford nearly everything I might want, but I know that if I do want something hobby related and I’m patient and really figure out if I want it and search for a bargain, I can afford it without a problem and I get that pleasure.

Most days, I don’t spend a dime on anything non-essential, and the resources I do use were usually purchased inexpensively, like store brand dish soap an dos on. When I do spend money on something nonessential, it feels like a treat. I genuinely enjoy things like going out for an $8 fast casual meal with one of my friends who also works from home; we meet up for lunch sometimes just to have that contact. There’s no reason for me to have an $8 lunch somewhere every day, but on the days when I do, not only is it a social occasion, it feels like a treat.

That’s my system. That’s how I’m not just surviving the financial fight, but winning it. It’s a day-in-day-out life that is sustainable and enjoyable and each day I basically automatically move a few steps along the path to complete financial independence. I am a reasonably financially successful person and I can say that with complete seriousness, and it’s because my daily system keeps me on that path without resentment and with plenty of joy.

What’s Your System?

Whatever the challenge you face, whatever it is you want to change in your life, you have two ways of approaching it. You can survive the fight by just taking some emergency temporary action, or you can aim to win and keep winning by becoming the person you want to be and putting together daily systems and habits for success.

There is no right answer for every situation. It depends on what you want most out of your life, and not everyone wants the same things. What matters is that you decide what you want and that you move forward accordingly.

Good luck!

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How I’m fighting chronic depression and anxiety

Hello, friends! I have four money articles in progress, plus I’m editing several guest posts for future publication. But today I want to give a brief update on my mental health. My depression and anxiety have been tough this year but it feels like I’ve turned a corner, and I want to share what’s helped.

Each week when I go to therapy, I complete a survey regarding my recent mood and attitude. It’s about what you’d expect. There’s a list of maybe a dozen statements, and for each I fill in a bubble indicating how strongly I agree (or disagree) based on my experience during the previous seven days.

From memory, sample statements include:

  • I feel nervous and/or my heart races.
  • I feel anxious in social situations.
  • I have friends and family I can ask for support.
  • I have trouble finding motivation to get things done.
  • I’m able to complete everything I want to do.
  • And so on.

At my first therapy session in April, my score on this assessment was awful. I felt anxious all of the time. I was having trouble with increased heart rates. (Thanks, Apple Watch, for constantly flagging that.) And by far my biggest problem was getting done everything I wanted to get done. I wasn’t doing anything. I was too deep in my anxiety and depression.

Last week, I visited my therapist for the first time in a month. As always, I completed the mental health inventory before our appointment started.

“Whoa!” my counselor said when she saw the results. She pulled up my past scores on her computer. “This is the best you’ve been since we started working together. You marked that everything’s fine except for your ability to get work done. That’s great. What happened?”

“What happened is that I got out of my routine,” I said. “I’ve been on vacation. Plus, I’ve been doing a lot of the things you and I have talked about. They’ve helped. Right now, the reason I can’t get done everything I want to do has nothing to do with depression and anxiety. It’s just that I have so much on my plate that I can’t figure out how to prioritize it!”

During our time together, my therapist and I have explored a variety of steps I can take to improve my mental health. When I actually implement these things, life is great. (I have a tendency to talk about making changes without actually doing so. This was especially true early on.)

Here are three changes that have helped me cope with my depression and anxiety.

Spending More Time with People

When Kim and I lived in a condo in the city, I got plenty of social interaction on a daily basis. Now we live in a house in the country. Unless I make an effort to reach out, I can go a week without having a meaningful conversation with anyone but Kim.

Plus, I lost touch with many of my old friends when Kim and I embarked on our fifteen-month RV trip around the U.S. When I returned home, I didn’t resume the relationships (and my friends didn’t either).

Some people have social interaction built into their lives. They’re surrounded by co-workers on weekdays. They attend church on Sunday. They take their kids to school events and/or participate in community organizations. I don’t do any of this.

For many years, I had a built-in social group because I took Crossfit classes. I got to interact with my fitness friends several days each week. But I haven’t attended classes in a long, long time, so that network has vanished too.

This summer, I’ve deliberately taken steps to reconnect with old friends. I invite them to join me at Portland Timbers games. I have lunch or dinner with them. We walk dogs together. Although I haven’t joined any community groups, Kim and I are both looking to do so.

There’s still more work to be done here, but I feel as if I’m moving in the right direction. It feels good to reconnect with people.

Exercising and Eating Right

Speaking of exercise, this is another area where I’ve let things slide.

I used to be fat. I ate poorly and I didn’t exercise, so naturally I gained weight and then maintained it. My poor choices were reflected in my (lack of) physical fitness.

In 2010, I resolved to change. I reduced my calorie intake and made better food choices. More importantly, I started cycling and discovered Crossfit. Within two years, I was the fittest I’d ever been in my life. I was lean. I was strong. It felt amazing.

No joke: Being fit and knowing that you’re fit is one of the best things you can do to boost your confidence and to fight depression. I’d always heard that. For a few years, I lived it.

I maintained my fitness until 2015. When Kim and I left for our RV trip, however, my health began to erode. At first, she and I made time to exercise but gradually our motivation vanished. At the same time, we were eating more unhealthy food (we wanted to try the regional cuisine!) and drinking more alcohol (we wanted to try the regional wine and beer!). We packed on the pounds.

Since returning to Portland in 2016, I’ve made intermittent attempts to exercise and eat right but nothing has stuck. “I had to buy fat clothes for our trip,” I told my therapist before we left for Italy in August. You can bet she had a chat with me about (a) my word choice and (b) my inability to follow through with fitness.

Now, I have a plan. My crazy summer schedule becomes less crazy on October 15th. After that, I have no travel planned. I will sign up for Orange Theory classes and attend them early every morning. (I have to exercise first thing or it won’t get done.)

In the meantime, I’ve already begun reducing my calorie intake and making healthier choices. My goal is to lose weight this winter instead of gain it.

Lowering My Expectations

Perhaps the biggest change I can make to improve my mental health is this: lowering my expectations for myself. I am a perfectionist. But perfectionism leads to both procrastination and disappointment.

“J.D., why are you forcing yourself to publish so much when you know that doing so is stressful?” my therapist asked in June. “This is an expectation you’ve placed on yourself. Nobody else has done this to you. You are making yourself unhappy.”

Good point. And, you know what? This was one of the primary reasons I sold Get Rich Slowly back in 2009. Ten years ago, I was deeply unhappy because of the publication schedule I had imposed upon myself.

So, Tom and I have been s-l-o-w-l-y transitioning to a different model here at the website.

  • I will write when I want to write (about what I want to write).
  • He and I are working together to revise and expand older articles. We’ll publish new and improved versions from time to time.
  • We’ve been publishing articles from guest authors and from places like NerdWallet.
  • We’re in the process of hiring a staff writer. (Maybe more than one?) If you’re interested, you should apply for the position.

But it’s not just here at the blog that I have to fight my high expectations. It’s everywhere in my life: my relationships, my health, my home — even my expectations of what I do in my spare time.

Yesterday, I was talking with my former Crossfit coach about returning to the gym. “J.D.,” he said, “I know you. And if I could offer one piece of advice, it’d be this: Set your bar for success very low. If you go in and expect to be where you were six years ago, you’re going to give up. For now, you should count it a success if you simply show up.”

“Showing up” seems like a low bar indeed, but my coach is right. If my expectations are too high, there’s no doubt that I’ll fall short. And when I do, I’ll be discouraged. It’ll stop me from starting! So, my first fitness goal will simply be: get to the gym each day.

It’s going to take some time for me to shed all of my expectations. (And, truthfully, I’m not sure discarding all expectations is even desirable.) But that’s why I’m working with a therapist.

Here’s an example of my expectations in action. Although I’ve agreed with my counselor that I should not adhere to a publication schedule at GRS, I begin to get antsy as days pass and I don’t have something new ready for readers.

In fact, this very article is a result of that. For the past seven days, I’ve been working almost non-stop even though there’s nothing new to show for it. It’s been a week since I published my last piece and it’s stressing me out.

When I sat down with my coffee this morning, I started writing a journal entry about how this expectation was making me unhappy. That journal entry turned into this article. I still have work to do on this haha!

Everything I Already Know

The funny thing about therapy (to me) is that my counselor’s advice is stuff I already know. I have a psychology degree, after all, and at one time I intended to become a therapist myself. The things she says and does are all very familiar to me. (She’s always telling me not to worry about things I cannot control, which is hilarious because that’s what I’m always telling you folks.)

But there’s a difference between knowing and doing. You can have all of the book knowledge in the world, but if you don’t put that knowledge into practice, what’s the point? My counselor’s job is to move me from words to action.

Honestly, I feel great right now. This is how I used to feel most of the time — and how I want to feel in the future. I’m enjoying life and getting shit done. The darkness is currently at bay. All I see is light.

Yes, I feel overwhelmed by how much work I have to get done — next Thursday, I leave for another 20 days on the road! — but instead of shirking the work, I’m doing it. And the workload isn’t due to negligence on my part. It’s just a perfect storm of deadlines and travel.

But in the back of my mind, I’m worried about what might happen this coming spring. The past few springs have been miserable for me. I’m dreading a return to the days of lying in bed, the lack of desire to talk to anyone about anything. I don’t like myself when I spend all day in my underwear playing videogames. Yuck.

I’m making the right moves now, though. I’m being proactive. I’m being a grasshopper, not an ant. While everything seems rosy and bright, I’m working to lay a foundation for future success, working to create systems that will help me maintain a positive direction even when the depression and anxiety come creeping back next year.

Fingers crossed that all of the preparation pays off!

Author: J.D. Roth

In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he’s managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.

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How to Get the Best Kohl’s Black Friday 2019 Deals

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

NerdWallet is here to help you win Black Friday while leaving your budget intact. We spend the time, you save the money. Visit regularly for holiday shopping tips and announcements about your favorite retailers. Black Friday is Nov. 29.

Kohl’s Black Friday deals 2019

Waiting for this year’s Black Friday deals at Kohl’s? So are we. Keep checking back, because we’ll share the 2019 deals as soon as they’re released. In the meantime, here’s a look back at what happened last year.

Kohl’s Black Friday deals 2018

Along with Macy’s and J.C. Penney, Kohl’s is one of the major department store chains that delivers big deals on Black Friday. In 2018, stores opened on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m, but online deals began before that.

Discounted products ranged from jewelry to TVs, and shoppers could rack up Kohl’s Cash with qualifying purchases.

Some of the biggest deals included:

  • Samsung 58-inch 4K smart TV for $549.99 (get $165 Kohl’s Cash).
  • Instant Pot for $69.99 (get $15 Kohl’s Cash).
  • Select toys for $4.99.
  • 50% off select games.
  • 70%-75% off select fine jewelry.
  • 50% off LC Lauren Conrad handbags, slippers and slipper socks for her.
  • 40% off celebrity fragrance gift sets.

Kohl’s also offered a coupon for an extra 15% off, but it was important for shoppers to read the full details, because certain products and brands didn’t qualify. If Kohl’s offers a similar coupon again this year, make sure the item you’re buying qualifies for it.

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15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap

Want some tips on how to eat out on the cheap? Here are 15 tried and true ideas to help you enjoy restaurant food — on a budget.

How to Eat Out on the Cheap

Love eating out? Don’t love how much it can cost? Here are 15 ideas to save money on eating out:a

1. Go out to lunch instead of dinner.

2. Always use restaurant coupons.

3. Order water instead of beverages that cost.

4. Split an entree with someone else when possible.

5. Sign up for Birthday Freebies and use those when you eat out.

6. Go out for dessert instead of a full meal.

7. Use restaurant gift cards that you bought discounted.

8. Sign up for restaurant apps and email lists to be notified of great coupons and specials — or even freebies!

9. Earn free restaurant gift cards from Shopkick, Fetch, and Swagbucks.

10. Go on Kids’ Eat Free nights.

11. Eat a snack before you leave the house so you’re not as hungry.

12. Don’t order appetizers or desserts.

13. Eat out at Costco or IKEA instead of a restaurant.

14. Apply to be a mystery shopper and you could get paid to eat out! (I have done this many times in the past!)

15. Go to a fast food restaurant with a dollar menu and let everyone choose 1-3 items off the dollar menu!

What are your favorite tips for saving money on eating out? Share them in the comments!

P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on How to Save Money on Eating Out.

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5 Money Milestones for Parents of Young Kids

We get it. You’ve been busy since you found out you were expecting.

Baby preparations turn into sleepless nights turn into homework-filled afternoons…

So when it comes to money, you’re probably just trying to pay your bills on time, right? That’s a good move, but you’re probably forgetting about some bigger milestones you should achieve before your kid gets too old.

No need to overwhelm yourself and do these all today. We set these up in order of priority, so let’s start with the easiest — yet, arguably, most important — first.

Before They’re Born: Secure Their Future

Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income? Without your support? Maybe you’ve worried about this a little too much since your little one has entered the picture.

That’s totally normal, but you might be able to tame a few of these anxieties by securing life insurance, which will help ensure your family is finally secure if anything happens to you.

You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes — and you can secure a policy starting at $5 a month through a company called Bestow. Yeah, no need to pay hundreds of dollars a month.

“The biggest mistake I see millennials making is being duped by insurance salesmen,” says Andy Yadro, a financial planner with Googins Advisors in Madison, Wisconsin. “Everyone needs insurance, but a very small subset of young people need the insurance that is sold by most financial advisers.”

So if you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without the medical exam, pushy sales calls or even getting up from the couch, check out Bestow. The company is built around one concept — helping you get the term life insurance policy you want, simply and fast.

It just takes five minutes to answer some basic lifestyle questions, and you can get quotes for up to $1 million in coverage without a medical exam. If you’re approved, you can personalize your coverage to fit your budget. You can change or cancel your plan at any time.

Now you can rest a little easier tonight.

When They’re 2: Open a High-Yield Savings Account

Remember when you turned 18 and jumped ship into adulthood? Errr, well, tried to jump into adulthood? For many of us, that was a tough time. If you want to give your kid a little boost, set them up with a savings account.

You don’t have to contribute anything major. Think about it: If, when they’re 2, you start putting $25 into an account once a month until they turn 18, that leaves them with nearly $5,000. That’s enough to help with the cost of college living, starting a small business or backpacking through Europe.

And if you stash the money in a high-yield savings account, the balance will grow even more, thanks to that sweet, sweet compound interest.

When They’re 6: Talk to Them About Money

If you’re going to work hard to build your kid’s savings, then you probably want them to use it responsibly, right? That’s why it’s important to teach them the value of a dollar early on.

One fun way to do this? Take them grocery shopping. Give them a mini-cart or basket, and let them walk through the store with you. Point out what’s considered a want and what’s considered a need. Fresh doughnuts from the bakery? That’s a want. That loaf of bread? That’s a need.

Another classic way to teach kids about money is to set up an allowance for chores. Of course, they’ll want to spend this money on a toy. That’s OK! This exercise helps them understand the value of a dollar.

Before They Turn 10: Involve Them in Financial Decisions

As your kid gets older, they’ll want to participate in every after-school activity, attend every summer camp and buy every new piece of technology.

Instead of feeling guilty — or caving and overspending — let your child hear and participate in your household conversations about money.

“Classically, parents will go behind a closed door to talk about saving, budgeting and investing,” says Maggie Johndrow, a financial adviser at Johndrow Wealth Management. “But psychologists have found that will make your children think finances are scary, taboo and something that’s not to be talked about in the open.”

Instead, Johndrow encourages parents lay it all out there. Let your child know your budget for after-school activities, for example, then work together to choose what’s affordable.

“Empower them and teach them by giving them that choice,” Johndrow says.

Now, that wasn’t so bad, right? Almost easier than remembering to pay your bills each month.

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